Student Stories: Marissa Johnson
I grew up in Louisiana in a Christian household, but not a churchgoing household. The first time I really had a Christian community was when I came to SPU.
I had never looked at SPU when I was in high school. I didn't want to go to a Christian school, because I'd had some bad experiences with that kind of thing. No Bible-thumpers for me, thanks.
When I came in, I was a business major; and back then if you'd had me rank my top professions, at the very bottom, like even more than negative, would have been ministry.
I now work at a church, am majoring in Christian Scripture, and will soon go to school to get my MDiv. Did I mention I'm also a philosophy major? The life I have wasn't in my plans. Thankfully, God doesn't care about "our plans."
My first quarter here I took a Community Bible Study with Dr. Dave Nienhuis. The first day of class we talked about authorship issues in 2 Peter and Jude. My head nearly exploded. I'd never thought of who the authors were. Though I studied a lot and was always asking questions, I'd been so trained in my tradition that I never even wondered who wrote the texts or how the Bible came to be. Why had I never asked the question, and why had no one ever bothered to tell me?
Then something happened when I had Dr. Frank Spina for U Found 2000 — I changed my major to Christian Scripture. Dr. Spina reoriented my philosophy of Scripture; how I approach Scripture, and how I think about Scripture. This was such a different way of looking at the Bible than just, "Oh, yeah, it says what it says." This different outlook made it so that I was looking forward to being able to reclaim the text as sacred, holy, and life-giving. To go back to the text without many of the presuppositions I had inherited redeemed the place of holy Scripture in my life and in my faith.
I love our SPU professors. While they take their work seriously, they clearly have a heart for what they're doing and how it affects people. Their work is something you can tell affects their everyday lives and their own faith. And they're so willing to enter into conversation with students. I'm kind of blown away by that all the time. I can't believe that my professor who wrote a commentary on this book is willing to entertain my arguments; the same professor who is also willing to grab coffee and chat about life with me. Learning and community find a home in our School of Theology.